Gridserve has opened its first Electric Forecourt near Braintree, Essex.

The site is the first of over 100 sites being built over the next five years, providing much needed charging infrastructure required for mass EV adoption well ahead of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars. 

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The forecourt, adjacent to Great Notley, just off the A131, enables 36 electric vehicles to be charged simultaneously, with high power chargers that can deliver up to 350 kW of charging power, adding 200 miles of range in 20 minutes.

Together with Gridserve, the project has been funded by Hitachi Capital, Innovate UK and OZEV. 

Electricity is generated from both the solar power canopies above the chargers, and a network of hybrid solar farms. The UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm in Clay Hill is paired with the Braintree forecourt, providing 100% renewable energy via the national grid. There is also a 6 MWh battery onsite which helps to balance the local energy grid and shift energy to periods when it is more valuable. For example, on windy winter nights the battery can store enough energy to drive 24,000 miles in electric vehicles the following day.

Drivers charging at the new forecourt will initially pay just 24p per kWh of energy (including VAT), which is claimed to be currently the lowest ultra-high power charging rates on the market. A typical charge from 20% to 80% costs under GBP10 for an average size electric vehicle. Gridserve plans to introduce a tiered pricing structure later.

Retail space includes WH Smith, Costa Coffee, Booths, a post office, and Gourmade. The facility also includes a waiting lounge, free superfast WiFi, ‘high-end’ washrooms, dedicated kid’s area, wellbeing area with exercise bikes that generate electricity, and business meeting room pods.

Toddington Harper, founder and CEO of Gridserve, said: “Charging has to be simple and free of anxiety, which is why we’ve designed our Electric Forecourts entirely around the needs of drivers, updating the traditional petrol station model for a net-zero carbon world.”

The upper floor of the building showcases the latest electric vehicles, and there are multiple digital screens that help people learn about and source electric vehicles. Gridserve is also hiring electric vehicle enthusiasts to help educate people about electric vehicles, and arrange test drives.

In partnership with Hitachi Capital, Gridserve has also also launched Gridserve Electric Vehicle Solutions, the UK’s first net zero electric vehicle leasing business. The service is designed to bring the cost of driving electric well below that of petrol or diesel cars, and minimise the environmental impact of EVs.

Net zero carbon energy is included in monthly leasing payments, meaning drivers can charge at Electric Forecourts without paying any additional costs.

This removes a key barrier to mass EV adoption, enabling people to accurately compare the cost of leasing a petrol or diesel vehicle, plus fuel, with an electric vehicle with fuel included. This reflects the true overall cost to the consumer, which in most cases clearly demonstrates a lower cost for EVs than petrol or diesel vehicles.

The benefit is amplified for the 40% of UK drivers without access to off-street parking who would otherwise have to rely on less dependable and typically more expensive public charging infrastructure compared to charging at home. For those who lease through Gridserve, charging at an Electric Forecourt becomes cheaper than home charging because energy is already included in monthly leasing payments.